Modifications I've Made to My Car






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What was wrong with my 540 to begin with?

Well, nothing really. But nothing's perfect. And nothing's ideally suited to every potential buyer. My 540 is a great car, but there were a couple of things I could do to make it a better match to my needs. You may find these ideas useful for your own car, though you may not be able to make exactly the same modifications. Before making any permanent alteration to your car, make sure you understand exactly what you're doing and know it's safe.

Minor Stuff

In the not-terribly-significant department, I installed a cargo net and tool box in the trunk and anti-theft wheel lugs on all four wheels. The net and the lugs are factory parts. The cargo net is definitely useful for keeping small items of luggage, groceries, etc. from sliding around in the trunk, and it's easy to use.

The anti-theft wheel lugs come with their own drive adapter that allows a standard lug wrench to work with their unusual head pattern. It wouldn't be impossible for a thief to remove these lugs even without the adapter—and I'm sure there must be thieves out there who carry these adapters around just in case—but they'll be a minor deterrent, at least.

Major Stuff—Dinan Magic

I can make my car safer and nicer, but I can't make it faster. I let the experts at Dinan BMW do that. Even better, they did it for free! Click and read.

Installing a Valentine One Radar Detector

This modification isn't too difficult to accomplish, but I documented the process with a number of pictures, so it gets its own Web page. Click and enjoy.

A fire extinguisher under the driver's seat

Another straightforward installation with its own illustrated Web page.

Mag-Lite mount by the driver's door

I'll just describe and illustrate this one right here-- it isn't long enough to need its own page!

A Mag-Lite mount (720x540 JPG)

I used short self-tapping sheet-metal screws in pre-drilled holes to install standard Mag-Lite mounts just inside the driver's-side door. Easily done, and not in the way of my feet. The mounting clips are cheap plastic, but are quite adequate to hold the flashlight even in extreme maneuvers. I've broken a couple of them over the years by stepping on them, though.

I've considered building some kind of sturdy custom mounting system to replace these plastic clips, but I think it's easier to replace them occasionally. I've considered replacing the Mag-Lite with a better flashlight, too. There are some very impressive units designed for the public-safety market. Some of these professional models are much brighter, but they're also much more expensive.

Note that the light is equipped with the optional hexagonal end cap. Though you can't see it, the cap is holding a red filter over the standard clear lens. The filter allows the light to be used at night without destroying the user's night vision. When the filter is not needed, the cap slides off along with the filter, producing the normal white light.

What else do I want to do to my car?

There are a few more things I'm considering.

For example, the center console on this car consists of a sliding armrest with two pads on either side of a shallow tray designed to hold a cellphone, sunglasses, or other small items. It's pretty much useless for storage, though it occupies a significant amount of space. I've heard about a couple of alternatives from BMW: one a sliding armrest with an internal storage compartment, the other adds a shallow storage compartment to the console with a hinged (but non-sliding) cover. There may also be other options. I'm still thinking about this one.



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